Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Million Words

My friend Pete Young's pictures in various categories at Flickr. Various subjects, including SF author's with pending Big Works A'Coming.
PlanetQuest

NASA's PlanetQuest website allows you to keep track of the discovery of exoplanets. Need a new setting for that epic space opera you are writing during November's novel in one month project?
The Hub and Beyond

James H. Schmitz was, at one point, one of the more popular authors to appear in the pages of Astounding/Analog. Coming in when folks like Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov were at their peak, he eventually (along with others such as H. Beam Piper) became one of John W. Campbell's primary authors.

The bulk of his work takes place in The Federation of the Hub, a portion of our galaxy made up of thousands of linked worlds. Schmitz had a couple of characters that appear in the majority of the stories: Telzey Amberdon and Trigger Argee. He also wrote a second series, the Vega tales as well as a number of independent works. The tales eventually made their way into book publication, but, sadly, went out of print even before Schmitz died. I knew of some of his works, but not (in those pre-internet days) in any organized fashion.

Several years ago, Baen Books author and editor Eric Flint started bringing back into print the works of various classic SF authors. Schmitz was one of them. Working with long-time Schmitz fan and scholar Guy Gordon (who has a great resource here), Flint brought out four volumes of tales set in the Federation of the Hub (Telzey Amberdon, T.N.T.: Telzey & Trigger, Trigger & Friends and The Hub: Dangerous Territory), one collection of the Vega tales, one collection of independents (Eternal Frontier) and even the novel The Witches of Karres (followed, eventually, by a sequel written in the spirit of Schmitz).

I've read several of the tales, as I said, but it has been scattered. This will be my first "organized" exploration of this universe. These tales are very much in the spirit of the young adult books of Robert A. Heinlein: interesting settings, interesting aliens, fun (and scary can be fun) adventures. Most importantly: intelligent, capable main characters. I would definitely recommend them for any science fiction fan not familar with them, and I would also recommend them as a way of introducing science fiction to young adults (teenagers). I know I'll leave them around when my daughter gets older!

Telzey Amberdon (co-edited by Eric Flint and Guy Gordon; Baen Books; ISBN 0-671-57851-0; cover by Bob Eggleton) (the entire book is available in the Baen Free Library).

Made up of: Novice; Undercurrents; Poltergeist; Goblin Night; Sleep No More; The Lion Game; Blood of Nalakia; The Star Hyacinths; Afterword (Eric Flint); and The Federation of the Hub: An Overview (Guy Gordon).

Counts as 7 entries in the 2007 Year in Shorts.

Counts as 3 entries in the 2008 Year in Shorts.

T.N.T.: Telzey & Trigger (edited by Eric Flint; Baen Books; IBSN 0-671-57879-0; cover by Bob Eggleton) (the entire book is available in the Baen Free Library).

Made up of: Company Planet; Resident Witch; Compulsion; Glory Day; Child of the Gods; Ti's Toys; The Symbiotes; Afterword (Eric Flint); and That Certain Something (Guy Gordon).

Trigger & Friends (edited by Eric Flint; Baen Books; ISBN 0-671-31966-3; cover by Bob Eggleton) (the entire book is available in the Baen Free Library)

Made up of: Harvest Time; Lion Loose; Aura of Immortality; Forget It; Legacy; Sour Note on Palayata; Afterword (Eric Flint); The Psychology Service: Immune System of the Hub (Guy Gordon); The Hub Series: Editor's Commentary, Part II (Eric Flint).

The Hub: Dangerous Territory (edited by Eric Flint; Baen Books; ISBN 0-671-31984-1; cover by Bob Eggleton) (the entire book is available in the Baen Free Library).

Made up of: The Searcher; Grandpa; Balanced Ecology; A Nice Day for Screaming; The Winds of Time; The Machmen; The Other Likeness; Attitudes; Trouble Tide; The Demon Breed; Afterword (Eric Flint); Recurring Characters in the Hub Series (Guy Gordon).

Agent of Vega (edited by Eric Flint and Guy Gordon; Baen Books; ISBN 0-671-31847-0; cover by Bob Eggleton) (the entire book is available in the Baen Free Library).

Made up of: That Was An Epiphany... (Mercedes Lackey); The Confederacy of Vega; Agent of Vega; The Illusionists; The Second Night of Summer; The Truth About Cushgar; The Custodians; Gone Fishing; The Beacon to Elsewhere; The End of the Line; Watch the Sky; Greenface; Rogue Psi.

Eternal Frontier (edited by Eric Flint; Baen Books; ISBN 0-7434-3559-1; cover by Bob Eggleton).

Made up of: Adventures in Time and Space (Eric Flint); The Big Terrarium; Summer Guests; Captives of the Thieve-Star; Caretaker; One Step Ahead; Left Hand, Right Hand; Homo Excelsior; The Ties of Earth; Spacemaster; The Alturist; Oneness; Dark Visions; We Don't Want Any Trouble; Just Curious; Would You?; These Are the Arts; Clean Slate; Time for Crime; Crime Buff; Ham Sandwich; Where the Time Went; An Incident on Route 12; Swift Completion; Faddist; The Eternal Frontiers; Afterword (Eric Flint); James H. Schmitz Chronography (Guy Gordon).

The Witches of Karres (edited by Eric Flint; Baen Books; ISBN 978-0-7434-8837-2; cover by Kurt Miller).

The Wizard of Karres (by Eric Flint, Mercedes Lackey and Dave Freer; Baen Books; ISBN 978-0-7434-8839-6; cover by Stephen Hickman).
Lunar Captures

George Tarsoudis is a amateur astronomer who specializes in photographing our Moon and the other bodies in our Solar System. Some very good stuff here!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest

Hey, I'm a pirate! Well, according to some people, anyway.

Pariser has a very broad definition of "stealing." When questioned by Richard Gabriel, lead counsel for the record labels, Pariser suggested that what millions of music fans do is actually theft. The dirty deed? Ripping your own CDs or downloading songs you already own.

Gabriel asked if it was wrong for consumers to make copies of music which they have purchased, even just one copy. Pariser replied, "When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." Making "a copy" of a purchased song is just "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy'," she said.


Shiver me timbers.
The Hard Way Up

The John Grimes tales of A. Bertram Chandler.

I first encountered John Grimes and A. Bertram Chandler in the pages of Galaxy magazine. Our school library had a stack of back issues that included some of these tales, along with the first appearance of Frank Herbert's Dune Messiah and many other memorable tales.

But Grimes. Poor Grimes. Plying the spaceways in his flying darning needle, he always ended up in a mess. By the end of each tale he managed...more or less...to extricate himself. Equally expected to end up as the youngest person to reach flag rank, or to command a third-rate ship on the Rim of the Galaxy, the tales were a ton of fun.

Some time later, I encountered my first Grimes novel (The Big Black Mark) from DAW Books. I accumulated several, as the local drugstore stocked them (my only source of books then). When I went to college, I found several omnibus editions from Ace Books. With Chandler's eventual passing, the books went out of print, alas.

But now they are available again to a whole new generation of readers. The Science Fiction Book Club has brought out a quartet of omnibus editions, each covering a different part of the career of the spaceways own Horatio Hornblower (others have laid a claim to the title with their characters, but Chandler was first). And Baen Books, through their Webscription service, has started coming out with the tales in multiple electronic formats (more importantly, free of any crippling DRM!).

The Road to the Rim (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-4417-3100-8. Cover artist not indicated.)

To Prime the Pump (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-2071-1607-0. Cover artist not indicated.)

The Hard Way Up (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-4413-1755-4. Cover artist not indicated.)

Made up of: With Good Intentions; The Subtractor; The Tin Messiah; The Sleeping Beauty; The Wandering Buoy; The Mountain Movers; What You Know.

Counts as seven entries in the 2007 Year in Shorts.

The Broken Cycle (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-87997-496-1)

Spartan Planet (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-4411-1555-6)

The Inheritors (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-4413-7062-7)

The Big Black Mark (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-879-97726-9)

The Far Traveller (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-87997-444-2)

Star Courier (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-87997-292-9)

To Keep the Ship (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-87997-827-3)

Matilda's Stepchildren (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-87997-845-7)

Star Loot (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-87997-564-7)

The Anarch Lords (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-87997-653-8)

The Last Amazon (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-87997-936-2)

The Wild Ones (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-886770-31-0)

The Way Back (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-8799-7532-0)

Into the Alternate Universe (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-4413-7109-9)

Contraband from Outerspace (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-4413-7108-2)

The Gateway to Never (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-4413-7064-1)

The Rim Gods (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-4413-2401-7)

Alternate Orbits (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-4411-3783-1)

The Dark Dimensions (Baen Books, ISBN 978-0-4417-2403-1)

Read in 2007...

The Road to the Rim shows us a painfully young and inexperienced John Grimes, on his way to his first assignment, still wet behind the ears. He gets involved in an incident of piracy and encounters the first bump in what should have been a smooth ride to his rank of Admiral.

The Hard Way Up is a collection of those tales that I remember so fondly from Galaxy. After a tale in which Grimes plays the part of the Monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, they cover the Grimes' career as a commander of a "flying darning needle", a small courier ship. Each story has Grimes and his crew encountering a new passenger that may or may not be what they claim to be. There's the cook with some extra skills and a fondness for garlic. The robot with delusions of grandeur. And then there was the time that Grimes lost a major tourist attraction.

Read in 2008...

To Prime the Pump has Grimes as a Lieutenant on a larger ship. This book takes place before The Hard Way Up (but I read it out of sequence). The ship gets a call to assist at the fabulously rich planet of El Dorado, a secretive place that does not allow the common rabble of the galaxy to approach, let alone land. It seems that they are having some reproductive problems. Some strange stuff in the book about magic and spirituality and probably, in my opinion, one of the weaker entries into the Grimes canon.

The Broken Cycle finds Grimes and a female "sky cop", Una Freeman cast into another universe when they are approaching a hijacked ship to defuse a booby-trap made out of an atomic bomb. A fair bit of sex in this one, some encounters with strange aliens and a strange god-like creature (or machine).

Read in 2010...

Spartan Planet: Grimes finds a planet of men, modeled on a distorted version of ancient Greece (Greece with high technology). Weird parallels abound between Star Trek and Lois McMaster Bujold (I was reading her novel Ethan of Athos at the same time, and it was interesting to see the similarities and differences).

The Inheritors: Grimes find a planet of almost humans. The commercial line that discovered the planet is there, looking for commercial opportunities and Drongo Kane is there, looking for...somewhat harder-edged commercial opportunities. An homage to Cordwainer Smith. Fun stuff.

Great stuff. Many thanks to the folks at Baen for bringing these back. I'm enjoying myself all over again. You think James Kirk scored a lot? Wait until you meet John Grimes!
Buran

Dark Roasted Blend takes a look at the Soviet version of the shuttle. They have a very nice selection of pictures, but don't show the ultimate fate of some of the test vehicles: stranded in a foreign land or converted into a theme park attraction.

I don't read Russian, but there is some neat stuff here as well.

And screensavers! Right-click (if you are PeeCee) to save.

Another site (suggested via the comments).
Much Ado About Nothing

I'm vastly amused to see that the forces of religion and the forces are secularism are both apparently annoyed with Phillip Pullman and the movie based on his book.

Me? I've tried to read them. Several times. I got bogged down...from boredom. Poor fantasy, at best. I have no plans to inflict them upon my daughter, or even to go see the movie.

By raising a stink, The Catholic League (they don't represent me!) is just going to raise curiosity, and folks will go, rather than boycott, the flick. But they'll never learn.

(I do congratulate The Catholic League for sticking with the books and reading them to develop all these half-assed theories, though. Much better than feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, bringing justice to the oppressed and all that boring stuff.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Visual Futurist

Illusion TV interviews Syd Mead, an artist that gave much of the "look" to films such as 2010: Odyssey Two, Blade Runner and more. With the ultimate fanboy edition of Blade Runner coming later this year and a documentary on his work in release, maybe we'll see a comprehensive print edition of his work soon?

Monday, November 26, 2007

To the Stars!

Via Dark Roasted Blend, a great collection of space art from Russian, America and more!
Say the Word and You're Free

Just like to point out that Baen Books is offering a whole pile of fine works of science fiction, fantasy and more in their Free Library. Just in case you think Amazon has invented the world of electronic books. (And while you're at it, surf past the media hype and also look at Project Gutenberg, Memoware, Manybooks and other folks who have been on the frontier far longer than the Amazon effort. Heck, I recall downloading Project Gutenberg works for my Apple Newton!)

(There's no reason, by the way, to spend several hundred dollars on a poorly designed, hard to hold comfortably, overpriced, DRM-crippled reader. Some smart shopping in second-hand outlets can get you a perfectly capable laptop, eBook reader or PDA for far less.)

Addendum (December 4, 2007): Charles Stross has some thoughts on the Kindle. I especially like this: We have a technical term for any business plan that relies on making life difficult for customers and easy for non-customers: we call it "circling the drain". Mark Pilgrim on the Kindle.
The Man from Earth

A review of a direct-to-DVD film that sounds like it has a lot of promise. I'm seeing echoes of Clifford D. Simak's Grotto of the Dancing Deer as well as stuff by Lester del Rey and others here. The screenplay author, Jerome Bixby, was no slouch, either.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

When Dust Gets In Your Eyes

Given the Moon's lower gravity, future missions will have to be careful that their own rocket plumes don't cause trouble for bases, supplies or scientific instruments.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

As Big as the Moon

In the evening sky, Mars is getting quite bright. It'll never get "as big as the Moon" as that internet tall tale that circulates now and again claims, but now is the time for some good views.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Shell Game?

Are "carbon credits" a real solution to "global warming" or just another way for somebody to get rich?
Dirty Things You Can Say on Thanksgiving

Slightly...off color.

01. Talk about a huge breast.
02. Tying the legs together keeps the inside moist.
03. It's Cool Whip time.
04. If I don't undo my pants, I'll burst.
05. That's one terrific spread.
06. I'm in the mood for a little dark meat.
07. Are you ready for seconds yet.
08. Its a little dry, do you still want to eat it.
09. Just wait your turn, you'll get some.
10. Don't play with your meat.
11. Just spread the legs open and stuff it in.
12. Do you think you'll be able to handle all these people at once.
13. I didn't expect everyone to come at once.
14. You still have a little bit on your chin.
15. How long will it take after you stick it in.
16. You'll know it's ready when it pops up.
17. Wow, I didn't think I could handle all of that.
18. That's the biggest one I've ever seen.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fighting Hamsters

Fighting hamsters from the sky
Some will live and some will die
Hamsters have nothing to fear
The fighting hamsters of Calontir

Silver tape upon their backs
A broadsword is all they lack
Fifty hamsters fight a war
They won't win without fifty more

Trained by jumping off a roof
Trained in combat tooth to tooth
Hamsters fight both far and near
The fighting hamsters of Calontir

Riding high upon our helms
Their war cry it overwhelms
All opponents become weak
At their fearsome squeaky squeak

Back at home Paval waits
His fighting hamster has met its fate
He has died while drinking beer
The fighting hamsters of calontir

Once again its off to war
This time we number a dozen more
We will fight for those in need
so this year it's with Caid

Fighting hamsters jump from planes
Fighting hamsters fall like rain
Some will live but most will die
Stupid creatures cannot fly


Words by : Chrystofer Kensor & Andrixios Seljukroctonis
Tune of : Ballad of the Green Berets

Monday, November 19, 2007

Universal

"The bureaucratic mentality is the only constant in the universe."

(De Forrest Kelly as Dr. "Bones" McCoy" in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
Watch the Skies

"Those pygmy Grays, though, the ones who keep trying to lasso you with piano wire whenever you do ketamine? Those little guys are bad mojo."


(William Gibson)
Definition of a Veteran

A veteran—whether active duty, retired, National Guard, or Reserve—is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to The United States of America, for an amount of up to and including my life. That is honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.


(Author Unknown)
Easy Travel to Other Planets (An Ongoing Series)

"Space," it says, "is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mindboggingly big it is. I mean you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space."


(Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)
Easy Travel to Other Planets (An Ongoing Series)

"No space traveling man says aught is impossible."


(Andre Norton)
That Old Time Religion

"Oooh, Pizza! What group is this again?"

"Campus Crusade for Cthulu!"

"Oh, crap!."
Bernal Alpha

(Posted in 2003...reposed here because it continues to interest me...)

(A repost from 2003...)

Take a look at this entry to this blog.

The author discusses the famous non-fiction work The World, the Flesh and the Devil by J.D. Bernal. This book influenced authors from Olaf Stapledon to Arthur C. Clarke, and even showed up in the space colony work of Gerard K. O'Neil and others (most notably in the design known as the "Bernal Sphere").

You can also find traces of it in the works of Vernor Vinge, Peter Hamilton, Stephen Baxter, Larry Niven, Gregory Benford, Greg Bear and David Brin...to name a few!

The blog entry is also a reprint of a (updated) speech/essay by Freeman Dyson. You know, that Freeman Dyson. The man who helped to link the parts of QED that Richard Feynman and others were working on. The Dyson Sphere. The Orion "boom-boom" atomic-bomb powered spaceship.

Yep, that Freeman Dyson. I heartily recommend his essays and books!

Alas, the book itself appears to be out of print. My edition (which I bought in 1976 and which was the VERY FIRST book I ever ordered at a bookstore—as opposed to just picking up something in stock) was published by Indiana University Press. A check of their website returns no hits on "Bernal" or the title. A check on (US) Amazon.com indicates an out of print status as well.

This is a very slim book but it is jam-packed with ideas. Just look at the list of authors that I feel have some connection to the ideas in the book. Like many of (IMNSHO) Arthur C. Clarke's books, it may appear thin, but it packs more punch per word than the blatherings of the best-seller authors...

Addendum: The entire text, it appears, of The World, the Flesh, and the Devil is online...Plus, like Vernor Vinge's "Singularity" essay and Eric Drexler's "Engines of Creation", it'll be nice to have something esoteric on the Sony Clie to read while waiting for a job interview!

On July 10, 2003, Michael McNeil, the author of the essay that started this whole journey posted the following... Manifesto-commentary by Michael McNeil

Prof. Brad DeLong has called the essay Dyson's "manifesto-commentary" on Bernal's book. I like that.

A comment from the Illustrious Mr. Chung, made on November 8, 2003: There is another online version of Bernal's classic, with a couple of extra chapters.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Inflation

What would be a good method for building a base on the Moon or Mars? Most concepts involve rigid structures. However, as Bigelow Aerospace's Genesis I has proved (using technology originally developed by NASA), inflatables might be the answer. Here's a concept for such a lunar base, soon to undergo testing in some harsh Earth environments.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Time to Come Home

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen any fighting. I can’t remember my last shootout: it’s been months. The nightmare is ending. Al Qaeda is being crushed. The Sunni tribes are awakening all across Iraq and foreswearing violence for negotiation. Many of the Shia are ready to stop the fighting that undermines their ability to forge and manage a new government. This is a complex and still delicate denouement, and the war may not be over yet. But the Muslims are saying it’s time to come home. And the Christians are saying it’s time to come home. They are weary, and there is much work to be done.

Bet you won't be reading this story in the MSM anytime soon. Or hearing it from the House or Senate.

Transition

Then his concern at the loss of sequence disappeared; and with the eventual return of light and a confused sense of time his recollection of the loss faded. Time started again quite far back, with the strong voice saying they must return to the ship; and the events leading to those words and the reason for his present inner happiness fell into place, though not without a lingering dreamlike imprecision as he lay there at his ease, contemplating.


(Patrick O'Brian, The Nutmeg of Consolation)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

CYA

So my wife got into a very minor fender bender this past week. No damage to our fender (front), maybe a scratch to the other fender (rear). She exchanged license and insurance information with the other driver and they both moved on.

She called our insurance company and passed on the information. You don't have collision, we're not going to pay for any damage! she was told. I know, she replied. There is no damage. I'm doing what the back of the insurance card says. You can't get a rental car, you did not accept that service! she was told. I know, she replied. There is no damage. I don't need a rental car. I'm just doing what the back of the insurance card requests, reporting an accident.

About a half-hour later the telephone rings. It was a different person from the insurance company. Asking to speak to me. Why, she asked? To talk to him about the accident he was in. But he wasn't in an accident, she replied. I was.

After that was straightened out, she was again told that they would not pay for damage and she couldn't get a rental car.

The mail yesterday contained a letter. Addressed to me. Regarding "my" accident. It seems that the insurance company won't pay for any damage to the car because we don't have collision and they aren't going to pay for a rental car.

Oh. My. Aching. Head.
The Missing are Deadly

(Reposted from 2005 and updated for 2007.)

I was rummaging through a list that I maintain of books that are yet to be published. I was amazed at the number of titles that we may never see. Whatever happened to...

The Star Conquerors (Ben Bova): Bova's first book, eagerly sought in its original edition by collectors (me!) everywhere. Mentioned on Bova's website a few years ago that they were going to come out with some sort of eBook (Adobe Acrobat, etc.) version. Never happened.

(2007 Update: This appeared on Bova’s website briefly. Then Bova’s website was redesigned and it vanished again. This is the last of the Winston SF books that I've been able to get. It looks like I'm going to have to significantly "up" my eBay bid to get a copy, as I always lose out at the last minute!)

"Winterfair", Lois McMaster Bujold: A short novel in the Miles V. series. It was supposed to be in a collection back in 2003, still haven't spotted it. No new Miles V.'s book either! I have learned that this will appear (next year?) in Irresistible Forces, edited by Catherine Asaro (not to be confused with Irresistable Forces by Danielle Steele!)

(2007 Update: This appeared in not one but two collections, I have heard. In any case, I eventually purchased it as a standalone eStory from Fictionwise and it will make an appearance where it belongs, with other stories of Miles V., in a volume called Miles in Love! It appears that we are couple of years away from seeing a new Miles V. novel as Bujold is deep into a number of other works. To keep me busy in the meantime, I've started re-reading the entire series from the earliest works onwards.)

Cyteen II (C.J. Cherryh): Well, we may see this one! There's some news about it on Cherryh's website (don't confuse this with the paperback edition of the first book...which split a single book into three paperbacks). However, some other titles that were floated years ago as possible new Alliance/Union books (Dublin Again, Africa, others)...nada...

(2007 Update: A relatively recent updating to Cherryh's site indicates that the books is done (huzzah!) and is now in the edit process. So, maybe a year from now for the book to appear.)

Mars Brat (Arthur C. Clarke): Mentioned in Locus several years ago. Unless this is what morphed into The Last Theorem, doesn't look like we'll see it.

The Last Theorem (Arthur C. Clarke): Mentioned several times in Locus and elsewhere. Latest news was that Frederik Pohl was being enlisted to help finish the book, but I haven't heard anything beyond that. 2008? 2009?

Childe Cycle (Gordon R. Dickson): According to the introduction that I read in Three to Dorsai years ago, the cycle was going to be 3 books set in the past, 3 books set in the present and 3 books set in the future. Eventually Dickson came out with several books set in the future, but never the others. I wonder if they exist in any form as notes and if we'll ever see those notes released in some form.

(2007 Update: Dickson's long-time assistant came out with a "co-written" book set in the Cycle, but it appears to be more a "bridge" book than the book to wrap up the series. If it does well, maybe we will see the real cap to the series.)

Demon With a Glass Hand (Harlan Ellison): Years ago Ellison said he was working on a novel version of this classic Outer Limits episode (my favorite). Haven't seen it yet. Vaporware like the Demon-related episode that was originally to appear during one season of Babylon 5?

Vic and Blood (Harlan Ellison): Several years ago in the latest edition of the graphic novel version of A Boy and His Dog and Eggsucker, Ellison had a short excerpt of a third tale, Bloods a Rover (titled here as Run Spot Run). From the remarks Ellison made, it sounded like we'd see it in a year or so, first as a screenplay and then a novel. Still waiting...

(2007 Update: Still waiting! And this book is sadly out of print!)

(2007 Update: Hey, I was asked, what about Last Dangerous Visions? Good question! From what I recall, this might be as much a rights problem as a editorial problem. Also, as the lack of publication has been the subject of at least one book, I figured the subject had been sufficiently covered. And, I'll admit that the first two collections have not "aged" as well as it could be hoped.)

Variable Star (Robert A. Heinlein with the help of Spider Robinson): Announced a few years ago, but it looks like it is progressing (slowly) in the news on Spider Robinson's website. Still about a year away, according to an update at Robinson's blog.

(2007 Update: Well it is out. Alas, it appears that there is more Robinson in the book than Heinlein. Sometimes that it is not a bad thing, but in this case the mix does not appear to have worked. Any more notes or partial manuscripts out there?)

Space Pirates (Gentry Lee): Gentry Lee. From the description of Lee's book The Tranquility Wars, I suspect that this title became Tranquility, but I can't be sure. Mentioned in Locus at one point.

Unnamed Novel (Gentry Lee and Arthur C. Clarke): Another Locus hint. Novel based on a TV series that Lee and Clarke had proposed. Haven't heard a peep since.

The Ghost Ships (Larry Niven): Announced but never written. This would have been set in the same sequence as Smoke Ring and The Integral Trees.

Inferno (Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle): They announced a revised/updated new edition, haven't seen it.

Purgatorio (Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle): As above, to follow the revised Inferno.

(2007 Update: Notes at Pournelle's site indicate that the book is complete. However, these notes have been more or less the same for quite a while, so I wonder if this is a case of a book looking for a publisher?)

The Moon Bowl/Moonmites (Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Michael Flynn): I was looking forward to this one. Set in the relatively near future (2050), this was supposed to be a novel in the spirit of the Heinlein YA novels.

Solar Queen II (Andre Norton): There was an omnibus of the first two Solar Queen novels by Norton. Haven't seen a follow-on collection.

(2007 Update: Most, maybe all, of the books in this Norton series are available at Project Gutenberg and some other sites. I'd still rather have a nice hardcover to complete the series!)

Falkenberg on Kennicott (Jerry Pournelle): A planned for Falkenberg novel. Announced long ago. Still in "outline" stage last I saw on Pournelle's website.

Mamelukes (Jerry Pournelle): An announced book in the Jannissaries series.

(2007 Update: Pournelle’s site indicates that he is working on it. Fingers and toes crossed!)

Spartan Hegemony (Jerry Pournelle): Another book in the overall CoDo/Empire series. Who knows?

The Return of the Space Viking (Jerry Pournelle): Based on H. Beam Piper's Space Viking. The penultimate vaporware, next to Ellison and "Demon"! Probably the oldest title in my list of books I've been waiting on. Announced in Pournelle's introduction to Space Viking back in the early 1980's. He talked about being the literary executor of Piper's estate, he had permission to do a sequel, was making notes, etc., etc., etc. Since then? Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Arggggggggghhhhhh.....

Unknown Novel (E.E. "Doc" Smith): According to a report by Robert A. Heinlein, "Doc" Smith had a novel that would take place after The Children of the Lens. Alas, he took it to his grave.

Dave Trowbridge and Sherwood Smith: This team produced the excellent Exordium series. Haven't heard of it? Darn shame, if you haven't, it out-space-operas most space opera out there! Wish Tor Books would bring these out in an omnibus edition (preferably hardcover), or the author's would let Baen Books do them as eBooks...anything to keep interest up until the long-awaited extension of the saga is finished!

Irontown Blues (John Varley): Varley wrote The Golden Globe and Steel Beach as a sort of revision/reworking of the earlier Eight Worlds sequence (Opiuchi Hotline, etc.) Every now and again he mentions that he's still working on Irontown Blues, allegedly the last Eight Worlds tale to be told. Still waiting, John!

(2007 Update: Ummm...still no Eight Worlds goodness to devour!)

Heaven Chronicles (Joan Vinge): Revised/expanded from a couple of tales like Outcasts of Heaven's Belt and Media Man. A darned good set of tales that incorporates both a post-holocaust and seedy asteroid belt civilization setting. Some of the earliest stuff I read when I first subscribed to Analog. To include a joint story that she did with her ex-husband in the sequence. Announced in 2000 in Locus. These were good stories, and I'd like to get them all together. Vaporware, I guess, alas.

(2007 Update: Sources tell me that this might be moving ahead!)

Title(s) Uknown (James White): Tor (in its Orb line) came out with three ominibus editions of White's Sector General Hospital stories. These are nifty tales, and I highly recommend them. Based on what they did in the first three editions, there ought to be one or two more of these omnibus editions. It's been a couple of years, and nothing from Tor.

Seed Ship (Jack Williamson): Announced in Locus, but given Jack Williamson's age and health, I don't know if we'll ever see it.

The Stellar Convergence (Jack Williamson): Announced in Locus. Could be what is now been published as The Stonehenge Gate, but who knows?

(2007 Update: Jack Williamson, alas, passed away about a year ago. Stephen Haffner, Big Poobah of Haffner Press (which is printing a lot...maybe all...of Williamson's short works) said to me when I made a query about these titles:

I'm guessing that Seed Ship is the original title of Manseed (Del Rey, 1982); at least there's an excerpt from Manseed in an Amazing Stories (Nov. 1982) digest under the title, Seed Ship. The Stellar Convergence was planned as a sequel to Terraforming Earth, but Jack told me that the ideas weren't coming to him—he said that it must mean that he said all he had to say with those characters in Terraforming Earth. The Stonehenge Gate is a standalone work, but it does have many familiar Williamson tropes, including my favorite of a nude girl astride some bizarre flying creature—just like on the cover of the paperback edition of The Gate Girl.


That clears up that mystery at least! Alas, the mystery of Seed Ship may never be known as I got the title from Locus well after Manseed had been published. So I kind of assumed that it was a sequel to Manseed.

I keep hoping that Haffner Press will stumble across a footlocker full of unpublished Williamson manuscripts. Along with folks like Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein, Williamson's works help to form my life-long love of science fiction. The hope is dim, but it is still a hope. In the meantime, I'm about due to visit the future of our solar system again, fight the dreaded Medusae, and stand alongside the Legion of Space!

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Haffner Press continues to publish the Williamson collections. If you enjoy pulp, if you enjoy science fiction, if you want to see the field develop: buy these books!)

2008 Update: I was pleased when SF Signal linked to this posting and specifically mentioned it not once, but twice. That's the way to give credit. I applaud them. I am less than pleased at this mention at io9. Folks, it would have been nice to go one step back and have at least made a passing reference to the original posting that inspired SF Signal. Frakking toasters.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

December 12, 2008

A day that will live in infamy? Why remake such a wonderful film? Why not do something new? (Yes, I know I've said it before. I've heard the standard reasons. But Hollow-wood wonders why they are losing an audience?)
Of Smith and Sime and Others

The mail brought me The Last Oblivion: Best Fantastic Poems of Clark Ashton Smith. I've read fragments of Smith's poetry, but nothing quite as complete as this.

The book is also of interest as it has a couple of examples of Smith's artwork. In addition to fiction and poetry, he also did sketches, paintings and sculpture. Some of his work can be seen at The Eldritch Dark. This got me to thinking about other art associated with fantasy writing.

The style reminded me of Sidney Sime. Sime was an artist that did a lot of stuff for Lord Dunsany, a man who inspired H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and others. Unfortunately, before the internet, I never was able to see much of his stuff. He is mentioned often in reprints, even in Lovecraft's own tales (see Pickman's Model, for example), but until I got a Penguin edition of Dunsany's works, I never had a Dunsany book with his favorite artist! Here's a site that has several galleries of his work.

Another favorite "pulp artist" is Virgil Finlay. He did a lot of work for the stories of A. Merritt, H.P. Lovecraft and others. Some samples of his work can be found here. A friend of mine passed on the following quote by Algis Budrys regarding Finlay's amazing works:

To imagine Virgil Finlay painstakingly stippling a two-page illustrations, knowing in advance that it would be manhandled by the Street & Smith pressmen and printed on paper roughly equivalent in quality to Scott Towels, is to picture a man as his own tormentor.

Finally, there was Hannes Bok. Also associated with Merritt, to the point of co-writing some works (fragments, unfinished by Merritt at the time of his death) and producing a few works of fiction on his one with a strong Merritt-esque flavor. Alas, no site devoted to his works, but this Wikipedia entry has some samples.

The appreciation of certain authors is enhanced by works of art that are associated with them!
If a Tree Falls in the Forest...

...does anybody hear it?

Checking the news of late, you'd think the only labor action that has happened in the country is the current screenwriter's strike in Hollow-wood. They want a bigger slice of the pie, all well and good, but a lot of this amuses me. There is a fair bit of chest-beating over various shows. Will Heroes take a fall? Will we see Battlestar Galactica's final season? How about 24? Will The People, having been subjected to endless amounts of Reality Television desert their sets for other forms of entertainment?

I don't know about you, folks, but for me the train left that station a long time ago. Three years ago I averaged—maybe—four hours of television a week. Two years ago, it dropped. For the past year...about one hour of television. Period.

I'd rather read. I do watch shows, but more often than not, on a massively time-shifted sense of things (waiting for the DVD set for a season to come out and then watching when it suits me). I've spent more time online than in front of the television set (as you may have noticed from all the postings here!). Shows that I'm most interested in get shuffled, cancelled or just never come to pass.

And, did I mention that I'd rather read?

As television has become more and more fractured, either chasing smaller and smaller sub-sets of the audience or chasing diminishing returns on what was the latest hot trend...it has captured less and less of my interest. Seeing the ratings for shows before this strike, I can't be the only one. Are more people playing Halo than watching Heroes?
The Endless Voyage

As you'll see from this reposted 2005 entry, David Gerrold has been on a quest for many years to get his Starwolf tales onto the little screen...or the big screen (scroll down to "The Long March of Star Wolf"). All to nought, alas.

Looking at Gerrold's website, I noticed an entry from August and an entry from September of this year that talks about a new effort to bring the tales to the screen.

Meanwhile, there are other things percolating. A few years ago, we tried very hard to get The Star Wolf off the ground as a TV series. Couldn't do it. Too much competition from the 800 lb. gorilla. But ... now, the market has changed and we're back in business, only this time developing The Star Wolf as a movie. Some very good people are involved and it's possible that this time next year, we'll be in production. (August 11, 2007)

And while, it's a little premature to talk about the details of this, I do want to acknowledge that the successful shoot of "Blood And Fire" is the reason for the rekindled interest in the possibility of turning "The Star Wolf" into a movie or TV series. There's nothing to report yet, except that gathering together and updating all the presentation documents is one more thing on my plate. (Unfortunately "agent.exe" will not update my presentation files.) (September 15, 2007)

The reason I bring this up...is a sinking feeling that the project will be scuttled...again. As you are no doubt aware (and I'll have another posting on the subject), screenwriters are out on strike. Various productions are going on hiatus, no doubt more will be cancelled. It'll be a dang shame if this is one of them—again!

Friday, November 02, 2007